April 30, 2014

Power Outage Date Night

Every time the power goes out, E & I play scrabble by candlelight.

Last night, I won by one point.

Current running game count since 2009:  BT: 3. E: 5.

Looks like I only need the power to go out 2 more times to tie it up...

April 27, 2014

SLO Half Marathon Weekend

Well, this race weekend was an unqualified success.

E and I drove down on Friday afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful and delicious date night on the ocean.  Saturday was race expo and carb loading with family plus a visit to a turtle and tortoise preserve. (Yes, you read that correctly.  That's our idea of fun.)

For the race, I had data from last year to help me calibrate my goals, and I was very proud to nail #1, which was the most important one -- I didn't blow up.  I ran a strong, smart race.

I also hit #2, which felt great!  First 6.55 miles: 1:08:08; Second 6.55 miles: 1:06:33.  Negative split!!

I hit #3 relatively easily, comfortable at the 10 mile marker that I would easily beat 2:20, and in the final miles, I kept gaining on the 2:15 pacers, to pass them in the final 0.25 miles and secure goal #4 (2:14:39 by my Garmin, AVG 10:11/mile).

Goal #5 was always a bit pie-in-the sky, and frankly, after the first 2-3 miles, I knew I needed to let it go or I’d risk missing my most important goal, #1.  So, I re-assessed, conserved energy, and even walked for a minute and finished the Gatorade from my aunt on the last bit of the final big brutal uphill before the 7+ mile turn-around point.

The second half of the race felt better than the first, which has been a long time coming.  I've overestimated my fitness on almost all of the half marathons I've done in the last 2 years, so the last half has typically been very painful.  For today's wonderful gift, I owe thanks to the sincere evaluation of reality I did the night before the race to make sure I had reasonable goals, as well as several *very* important things:

1. The elevation profile (the 2nd half was more downhill, and if I'm not dying, dowhills are my strength).  I took it easy on the uphills and passed folks on the downhills.  Interestingly, I was regularly passed on the downhills between miles 6-11 by a woman who was taking consistent 2-3 minute walk breaks on the uphills -- she had a similar downhill style to me, but after her walk breaks could jam down the hills faster than I could.  I took note, wondering if I may actually prefer this approach on a very hilly course.  Something to consider for the future...

2.  Carb Loading, for reals. I'd been knowingly negatively affecting my ability to run over the last couple of months by decreasing my carbs because I need to lose some weight, and for me, this is a strategy that is helpful.  This meant my long training runs, in particular, we typically brutal.  But, in prep for the race, I threw caution to the wind starting two Fridays ago.  If we were at a restaurant and there was bread, I ate as much as I wanted.  Two Fridays ago, on date night, I laid into such an epic serving of vegetarian pasta with olives, red pepper flakes and cheese that the server complimented me on finishing it, claiming, "I've never actually seen a lady finish this dish."  This Thursday, before a hike with E2, I did the same for lunch, finishing a large serving of seafood pasta and some bread.  Saturday, with my aunt and uncle for a pre-race meal, I had yet another pasta dish -- a delicious homemade garganelli with sausage, brocolli rabe, and peppers *with a side of polenta* (that E finished).  The interesting (to me) side effect of a week of choices like this (interspersed with more standard healthy light fare) was that it stopped the slow weight decline I'd been experiencing, but I could feel my energy levels going up on a daily basis and I started sleeping better.  For someone who loves pasta but almost never eats it, this week was a big splurge and I'm happy there were some obvious energy benefits.  The difference between my energy levels after an hour on almost all of my long runs in 2014 and today's race was like night and day.

3. Rest.   I left my last client of the day on Friday at 2 PM and set my out of office.  I took a call while E drove from 3 - 3:30 PM, and that was it.  I checked my email maybe one or two times over the weekend, but, for the most part, I didn't do any real work from 3:30 PM Friday until now.  Add to this that Friday night I was in bed, post hot tub, and healthy dinner by 10 PM, and that I took a nap on Saturday afternoon.  Oh, and miracle of miracles, somehow, despite the rock bands, with my earplugs, I was able to fall asleep in downtown SLO and sleep (albeit interrupted every few hours) from 10 PM to 5:45 AM.  I hadn't been this well rested in a long time.

All three of these variables combined (I might add, almost all of them existing due to the awesome support of my husband) with the good stuff I had coming in to outweigh the bad stuff I had coming in and enabled me to have a great race.

In fact, in a very common end of race story for me, yet again, the last 0.14 miles were all out.  In testament to just how well fueled I was, I did this bit at a 7:02/mile pace. A youngster at least 15 years younger than me (or so I told myself) came out of nowhere and decided to try to sprint past me in the final 0.1 mile.  I made her work for it, digging deep into the reserves I’d built up from all of the track sessions (and laughing at the ridiculousness of my pace for a 2:15ish half finish) but she managed to intelligently line up to pass the other folks in the chute, so I let her go rather than run over a couple in front of me.  Unlike other historic last minute sprints, this one didn’t bother me so much, she hadn’t been anywhere near me for any part of the race – I’m guessing she either started late or started *very* easy and just kept picking it up to the end.

Other beneficial race details?

As promised, my Aunt met me on course, with a sign, after the worst uphill, and she handed me the small Gatorade bottle I'd given her.  This meant I could hold it, run, and drink sports drink when I felt like it and keep a nice easy pace without worrying about aid stations until the top of the hill at Mile 7 (where I took a Mocha cliff shot… mmmm… caffeine).

The Gatorade plus 2 mocha cliff shots and water and sports drink on the course coupled with the carb loading meant that I felt the best I’ve felt at the finish of this race than I’ve felt in a long, long time at a finish.  I actually think I could have run another 5 miles at a good solid pace after the finish, but if you'd asked me whether I could do 17 at hard effort yesterday, I would have said, "NO WAY!"

Bonus, I just confirmed that I actually have 5 weeks ‘til my next race, a half with my sister, not 3, so I’m in perfect shape to capitalize on this run and make a strong effort to make additional fitness gains so I can enjoy a great race with her.  I haven't been this excited about running in a long time.

As for the race weekend, E, my aunt, uncle, and I solidified many details to make this race much more doable this year, including locking down the hotels to ensure comfort and luxury on Friday night date night and moving to a budget motel for walking distance to the start for Saturday, as well as driving plans for in-town family to aovid the road closures, and the go-to post-race brunch location (with awesome bloody mary’s).

My aunt was so adorably supportive this weekend.  She came with me to the expo and cracked up the cliff shot dude by telling him she wanted to put cliff shots on ice cream.  She was so obviously excited about being involved in the race weekend for the second year in a row and kept saying things prefaced with, “Next year, I’ll...” In her mind, there is no question.  This is an annual family tradition.

After today, with perfect weather, a great race, and beautiful views of the San Luis Obispo hills, I tend to agree with her.

Here's to next year!

April 26, 2014

SLO half marathon pre-race check-in

E and I drove down to Pismo/Shell beach on Friday.  It rained the whole drive, while we visited a local friend at her gymnastics gym, throughout dinner, and while we lounged in the hot tub after dinner.

And then, magically, just before we headed up, the weather cleared so we could enjoy a beautiful sunset overlooking the ocean from our hotel balcony.

We were in bed, asleep by 10 PM or so.  Oh, how an ideal date night has changed over the years...

This morning, I headed out for a quick 2 mile shakeout.  I did drills, 1/2 mile easy, a mile at target race pace (which felt good, effort wise), and a 1/2 mile cool down easy.  This ritual has worked for me in the past -- to help myself lock in to target pace the day before, and to ensure my legs don't feel sluggish at the start.

After the run, E and I hit up the hotel breakfast (I downed a liter of pelligrino), I went to the expo with my aunt (her first, she's a fan of Cliff Mocha shots), bought some good gear at 50% off, enjoyed a delicious cafe brunch, and took a tour of a tortoise and turtle preserve.  (Photos later).

We booked a hotel near the start downtown for tonight, so we checked in and I read and took a nap
(an auspicious sign, since I typically don't sleep that well the night before a race, having a good 9 hours last night plus a nap today is great!).

We enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner with my aunt and uncle, and now I'm trying to set reasonable goals for tomorrow so that I can execute on a smart race.

Turns out, it's a bit complicated to guess how tomorrow will (or should) play out.

The good:
-I've strung together 10 weeks averaging 29.5 miles/week since my last half marathon.
-I've lost 5-6 pounds since my last half marathon.
-The weather is supposed to be almost perfect for me --  48F at the start, 53F max at the finish.  Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of showers, 5-6 mph NNW wind (meaning crosswinds with a net minimal headwind on the way out and a minimal net tailwind on the way back)
-my 10K effort indicated I was in decent shape three weeks ago, and according to McMillan should translate to a 2:10 half marathon without too much trouble.
-taking half of Friday and all of Saturday to relax and prepare for the race is a luxury I rarely get to indulge in, and one that I assume will pay benefits in the race
-my aunt is going to be somewhere between miles 4 and 6 at the top of the hardest climb, waiting with a sign, Gatorade, and able to take my jacket (which I typically just tie around my waist once I warm up on a cold day)
-I carb-loaded fairly well all week, doing much better to pay attention to simpler carbs than I normally do

The bad:
-I haven't really had a good long run at anything close to what I'd like to target as race pace in this whole build-up.  The closest I can get is a 12 miler at 11:23 w/F, but that was on a *very* flat course.
-The hills on this course are insane. Last time, they killed me.
-My last long run was 9 miles with Jen and F, and the climb and descent were extremely difficult for me, resulting in a high-effort 11:14 pace.  I will be encountering more climb and descent than we did on that run in the first 4 miles of this course and it keeps going from there.
-Even with the lost weight, I'm still not back in my ideal 10 lb range, which means I'm still carrying more weight than I am used to racing with.
-I thought I had a reasonable A goal, but when I looked back to last year while running the full, I missed it by 4 minutes and I was much more fit back then.  Granted, it was a full, and it was very windy, but still, I didn't realize the goal was so ambitious.

So, after a bit of additional thought, here are my goals in order of attainability:

1.  To finish a good effort solid half marathon and *not* completely blow up at the end.  The main goal here is to ensure that tomorrow's run is a building block for the 1/2 marathon I'm running in Spokane in 3 weeks with my sister (which is relatively flat and net downhill).  I will re-assess my approach around mile 4 and slow down as much as I think is required to be sure I hit this one.   

2.  To negative split.

3.  To beat my Kaiser time of 2:20ish. (10:41/mile pace)

4.  To beat 2:15. (10:18/mile pace)

5.  To hit 2:10. (9:55/mile pace)

And now, to hydrate and read until I fall asleep...

Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!

April 24, 2014

Running Greatness

I was so happy for Meb on Monday.  I was onsite at a client, meeting with another attorney, and I had the race streaming.  When it came down to the last few seconds, I turned my screen so we could all watch history happen.  It was fun to share the moment with someone who'd never watched a marathon before.  He was surprised, "they are that close at the end of 26.2 miles?"  and "he's running how fast at how old?"

I've spent the last few days in a glow.  I bought Meb's audiobook Running to Overcome, and I'm enjoying learning more about this man who I already admired so much.  I read all the press I could get my hands on and was so proud of the American men for working as a team (great coverage here).

Today, I received the second email from a running friend regarding pulling together a team of women to do a Ragnar relay.  I'm very interested and I think I'd like to join.  I hope it works out.

After replying, I realized, wow, I'm totally excited about this event that includes a group of women, most of whom I've never met, and no men.

This is not normal for me.  I'm generally apprehensive about social interactions with groups of women.  One on one, I feel completely comfortable.  But 2 or more and I get concerned.  I actively dread baby showers and bridal showers.  I go to them and I'm usually glad that I did, but they require so much effort for me.  If I relax and just act like my normal self, I generally end up offending someone.  Obviously, that's not what I want to do.  So, I have to spend a bunch of extra effort reminding myself of things, like, "take the time to notice 4 things and compliment them as being cute, stylish, interesting, etc."  And, "Just because this person is talking about this topic doesn't mean that they actually want to know your opinion on it.  WAIT to see if they pause or ask for your input, don't just assume they are interested in what you have to say."  And, hardest of all, "Nod.  Smile.  Pay Attention.  Listen!" I have a very bad habit of tuning out stuff that I don't find interesting.  And, unfortunately, many of the standard topics of conversation when groups of women get together are  not that interesting to me. 

So, when I realized I was actually excited about Ragnar, even though it contained a bunch of women I'd never met, a light went on in my head.  Duh!  I have a history of doing sports with other women, and it has never been scary or awkward.  With sports, we all have a shared physical goal and we hang out together while trying to accomplish it.  I can be myself and focus and tune out and there's very little danger of my actions being interpreted as rude.

It's always amazing to me when, as an adult, you realize something for the first time that has been true about yourself since childhood.

I've categorically told myself that I don't feel totally comfortable in all female groups.  But that's not true at all.  I feel perfectly comfortable in all female groups when the reason we're gathering is athletics.  I've felt comfortable on gymnastics teams, soccer teams, diving teams, swim teams, drill team, and a cheerleading team.  These days, I *love* running with female companions, whether close friends or new acquaintances.  And I always look forward to going to the track group.

So there you have it.  Yet another reason running is great.  It helps me compensate for my social awkwardness.  

April 20, 2014

Last Week Before SLO Taper

This week was an interesting one.  Total Mileage: 25.2 -- if I was trying to taper, I'd be stoked.  But I wasn't, so that's not so great.

I did hit my 3 goal running workouts, managed to get in some solid core and stretching, and I ate well and lost another pound.  So, overall, I'm very happy with the week (even though it was much lower mileage than I would have preferred).

But there was also quite a bit of random stuff to contend with, and frankly, I'm not quite sure what to expect next week at the SLO half marathon.

Strength:  Monday was awesome.  After the easy long run with Jen on Sunday, I headed out for 3 in the early evening at a medium effort and easily hit 9:36/mile without feeling like it was horridly difficult.  I felt that I could have done the loop at least a minute faster for sure, which was a great feeling.  

Random thing #1 -- the speed workout from Silicon Valley Striders this week was insane, *and* I forgot my Garmin.  There were only 3 of us.  Me, the coach (who's faster than me at any distance longer than a 100), and N (who I regularly use as a pacer to pull me through the track intervals as I draft at paces I otherwise couldn't hit).  The workout was a ladder of insanity, starting with all-out sprinting, and extending into the territory of an 800 and back down, all with minimal recovery.  I did my best to hang, but after the first 400, it became very apparent that I'd need to either modify the distances, stop trying to keep up with them on pacing for the longer stuff, or increase my recovery interval.  I opted for #1, so my modified workout was as follows:

50m (:30s rest) -- ALL OUT. 
100m (:30s rest) -- ALL OUT.
200m (:60s rest) -- 90%+
400m (2:00 rest) -- 1:55; 200 walk
600m (200 walk; 3:00 rest; or jog lap recovery) -- modified to 400 @ 1:54; 400 jog;
800m (3:00 passive rest or jog lap recovery) -- modified to 400 @ 1:58; 400 jog;
600m (200 walk; 3:00 rest; or jog lap recovery) -- modified to 400 @ 1:58; 400 jog;
400m (2:00 rest) -- I was asked to pace the group as they were dragging.  No watch, so I hit the 400 @ 1:51 (too fast, but felt great); walking 2:00 rest
200m (:60s rest) -- 90%+
100m (:30s rest) -- ALL OUT.
50m (:30s rest) -- ALL OUT.

The truth is, I hadn't run that fast or that hard for that many minutes in a single workout in a long time, regardless of the recovery.  The sprints recruited muscles in my butt, hamstrings, core, and more that hadn't felt the need to engage in runs in a long time.  I was shaky and sore immediately and for several days afterwards.

Core (AKA Random Thing #2): The next day, I hit up a Power Yoga class for 75 minutes of heated hard core strength and stretching.  When was the last time I'd done this, you ask?  Oh, probably at least 2-3 years ago.  Totally a good idea to do something this strenuous for the first time in years 10 days before your next race, right?  My legs were simultaneously thankful and shaky and mad.  The next day, all my core and arm muscles that have been neglected let me know that they were disappointed in me too...

Easy (AKA Random Thing #3): Friday and Saturday's easy runs were at paces that surprised me (and not in a good way), but I tried to chalk it up the combination of the ridiculous speed workout and the unexpected taxation of the yoga class that involved an inordinate amount of lunges, single leg balances, etc.

Long Run: Last night, I ate light, went to bed early, hydrated, and looked forward to today's long run with F and Jen.  We had 9 miles at Sawyer Camp Trail, and I felt strong.  I hung with them on the 4.5 mile climb at their selected paces ranging from 10:18-10:37/mile.  At the 4.5 mile turn-around, I asked to walk to take my Gu, but I could already start to feel my error. I had pushed it too hard.  The 4.5 miles back down were a big struggle for me (and downhills are usually my strength!).  I positive splitted by a long shot and finished running 8.86 miles at an average pace of 11:07 before I walked a bit to close it off.  Am I disappointed?  Not really.  It's still a better pace than I've hit on any of my other long runs (sadly), and the climbing definitely gets some credit (roughly 150 ft of climbing and the return on the way back), as does the consistent time on my feet with only one walk break.  If nothing else, this run reminded me *not* to go out too hard at SLO.

And there you have it.  The running week in an eggshell (in honor of the dyed-purple egg I ate at an Easter Brunch today).  I hope you had a great Easter/Passover/Gorgeous Weekend.

April 18, 2014

A Different View

A few months ago, I was randomly selected to fill out a pre-qualification questionnaire for federal jury duty.

Looks like I made the cut...

I'm fascinated at the idea that I may end up on a federal jury.  I've heard two sets of conflicting feedback re: the likelihood that this may happen.

The most common theory is that lawyers always get stricken.  The party with the weaker legal case will use a challenge to get rid of you if you're a lawyer because you can easily spot the flaws in their case.

The other lore I've heard (from a career clerk for the federal judge I externed for who sat on 3 federal juries in her career and a few other sources) is that if they are going to trial, particularly federal trial, both parties think they have a great case and a lawyer is a much better bet than a random citizen in terms of actually paying attention to the evidence and ruling in accordance with the law.

I'm amused to see that I'm totally ambivalent on how this may play out.  I can't help but think that one of the reasons I can be ambivalent is because I saw how seriously the jurors took their duties when I was a federal extern.  The jury is one of the greatest legal concepts this country has (at least in the criminal and tort worlds, where I had the privilege of watching it be applied, very seriously and thoughtfully by randomly selected panels in the federal court system).

So, if I end up on a jury, so be it.  I'll serve to the best of my abilities and my practice, professional life, and personal life will all have to take the hit (given the dates at issue, I'll likely have to cancel pre-arranged travel).

If I don't end up on the jury, I won't be sad -- my practice, my professional life, and my personal life, will likely be better off.  Another individual will take my place.  And if my experience is any indicator, they will take it seriously and do a thoughtful deliberate job at arriving at their conclusions as well.

April 13, 2014

Procrastination Nation

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours sorting through and filing all the documents in my "file pile".

You read that correctly.  A couple of hours.

The primary reason for finally buckling down and doing this task that I only manage to complete a few times per year (hence how the pile gets to be so large and unwieldy)?

Well, kids.  The tax deadline is fast approaching.

Now, I have a folder with all of the tax documentation.  And, I've got the latest version of the tax prep software updated.

So, of course, I'm going to update my blog...

This week was a bit of a miss in terms of my running goals.  I didn't get in any good strength work at all, and my mileage was only 29.83 total.

My two good workouts weren't too bad, it was just the rest of the week that was tough.  The washing machine died on me, the kitchen remodel needed time with professionals on-site, and work picked up too -- which made committing to the scheduled mileage and/or workouts difficult.  I'm happy to say I made myself get on my feet and do *something* on every day but 1 day.  But the quality and time of those efforts was somewhat sub-par.  Oh well.  Some weeks I just have to tell myself that something is better than nothing.  And it is.

Despite the decreased mileage and crazy schedule, we ate quite healthy and I managed to drop another pound, so that's continued progress in that direction.

Speed -- track day:  This week's workout was a bit more difficult for me than normal because the track coach wasn't doing the workout.  When she's not also running, she tends to be much more strict about enforcing the recovery intervals.  My legs were still a bit heavy from the 10K last Sunday, but I just told myself to do my best.  I ran 2.21 miles warm-up to go get my car (which I'd left onsite at a client), drove the 7 minutes to the track, did another 0.18 mile jog/walk w/u at track and jumped in to the workout; 3 X (2 X 600 R/I:60) 400 R/I jogging between sets (splits: 3:00; 3:01; 3:05; 3:02; 3:05; 3:10), then I slapped on another 1.10 miles jog/walking c/d.  This pushed the mileage up to 6.41 miles, which is a great mid-week mileage day.  But, this week, it was my only mid-week day even remotely longer than 3 miles.

Long -- beautiful run in San Francisco with Jen today. 

(Stolen Photos from Jen below.)

One of the amazing views from the Lands End Trails

These stairs are why I didn't stress about the paces... no joke!

I had 14 on the calendar and Jen had 20, so we agreed to meet up at mile 6 of her run and do the last bit together.  I woke with a bit of a funky stomach, skipped the coffee as a result, and headed up to the meet-up place.  On the drive I got a text from Jen indicating that she may also have a bit of a funky belly, and that she would be 5 minutes later than expected due to a detour.  I walked a bit to warmup and placed myself at the intersection we'd agreed upon.  I waited several minutes longer than I expected and started to worry that it may have been a mistake to leave my phone back at my car (0.25 miles away at this point).  Just as I was deciding whether I should run back to my car, Jen came into sight -- turns out the map she'd used was short, the meetup point was at 6.6 miles instead of 6 miles!  Delay explained.

After this auspicious start, we decided to modify the route on the fly.  I was happy to write off the extra 0.6 miles, I just needed to get in a good long run.  Jen wanted to avoid the loop through the Sunset she'd originally planned because it had street intersection with traffic, so we headed down Sloat and along the Great Highway's trail.

Immediately, it became clear that my stomach was not happy with me and that I would need a restroom in the first couple of miles.  I considered hopping into a porta potty that was at someone's home for construction, but managed to preserve a small bit of dignity and held on for a public restroom.  And voila -- there it was -- the most glorious public bathroom I've ever used.  This building was my savior sent to me via time machine, complete with marble, tile, numerous stalls, molding at the ceiling -- all clean!  The world was a much better place after this gift from the past.

From there, Jen and I gamely ran slowly but steadily, out the Great Highway, up past the Cliff House, up into Lands End and up a million stairs to the top of the trail.  Jen gave me a high-five when we reached the Lands End trail entrance and I smiled.  Nothing like another runner to know the internal pride you feel when you finish a climb like that one (169 feet in mile 4, plus another 108 feet in mile 5).

The Lands End trail system is gorgeous.  While I'd been going to the Cliff House and the Sutro Baths off and on since childhood, I'd never been out to the trails.  They are recently expanded, very well maintained and the views are some of the best in the world.  I think I may need to arrange a hike with a group of friends.

At mile 7 or so, I apologized to Jen for holding her back.  I was pokier than I'd planned and I knew she had some pace goals I may be keeping her from hitting.  She surprised me by saying that she was struggling (this was on the climb back into the city through Golden Gate park) and was thinking about cutting back the mileage.  In hindsight, it shouldn't have surprised me.  We were gamely doing our best, but the whole day hadn't really gone according to plan for either of us.

From here, I decided just to play it by ear.  We considered adding a loop around Stow lake, got lost on our way there, finally made it there and after about half a mile, decided to head back out to the main road and just run to the car and let the mileage land where it did.

Towards the end, since I knew I'd be a little shorter than my planned 14, I threw in 4 HIIT intervals, all under 1 minute.  I was pretty tired, and the paces I hit showed it: 7:52; 8:18; 8:48; 9:07.  But, there's something about throwing in a hard effort at the end of a long run that fills me with a sense of accomplishment.  For me, since pushing myself on pace is one of my weaknesses, I think hard efforts at the end of long runs are actually much more difficult than slogging through the extra miles.  After the intervals, I jogged and walked back to the car with Jen after we left the main part of the park.  Total miles: 12.  Average Pace: 12:00/mile including all the walk breaks and the hiking up and down the stairs.

Overall, I'm very happy with this run.  It was great to catch up with Jen, and it's the first time in a long time that 12 miles felt "easy".  While it was slower, given the hills, I think it was comparable to the last 12 miler I did with F.  The difference is, after that one I was completely done, as were my legs, whereas this time, I definitely had more than enough energy left.  Bonus, my legs feel relatively fresh right now a few hours later, which is the first time that's happened after a long run in quite a while (probably partially due to my accidental step-back week).

So that's the week in a nutshell.  Off to get Guito some much-needed sunshine (I'll get to those taxes, I swear...).

April 9, 2014

Double Duty

First there was the pyrex incident that killed our garbage disposal.  So, we're scraping by without one (for the first time in my life, actually) until we finish the kitchen remodel.

Then, a day or so ago, our washing machine decided to die mid-cycle.

(I think water-based appliances may be going on strike at our house).

But, I can't really complain.  We bought the cheapest washer and dryer that Sears would sell us 11 years ago and we haven't had a single problem.

The real issue was, why did it have to die mid-cycle?  These clothes were sopping wet. 

So, yesterday, instead of my run, I hand-wrung the clothes and found a new purpose for the tomato cages:

Thank goodness this didn't happen in late summer when the cages would all be occupied by 6 foot tall plants!

April 6, 2014

SLO Week -3 (Baby Steps)

On the running front, I managed to string together another decent week and I dropped a pound or so.  Both of these are baby steps (but in the right direction). My goals for each week continue to be simple:

1. Get in at least one good core strength and stretching day (either yoga or calisthenics/weight lifting/stretching in a gym).

2. Get in 3 substantive running workouts, ideally one speed, one strength, and one endurance.

3. Fit in as much mileage as I can, even if it's walking.  (This week's total:  36.49 miles)

This week, I hit all 3 (I'm counting a 10K with a 1.5 mile jogging warm-up as a mixed strength and endurance day), so I'm a happy kid.

Monday, E was sick, so we canceled our hotel up in SF and I made myself go to the gym and do an hour of cross-training.  10 minutes on the elliptical to warm-up.  Then a myriad of weights and calisthenics and stretching.

I am *always* so sore after my core/cross-training days.  Lately, I've been inspired by bloggers who are rehabbing from injuries as well as running magazines and I've been adding more glute-focused work as well as specifically recommended running-focused strength work.  It is clear that my muscle memory and brain think I am actually much stronger than my body actually is.  Every week, I do what I think should be a reasonable yoga and/or strength workout and the next day my muscles scream at me and I realize it was less reasonable than I thought.

I'm not complaining, it's just interesting.  I definitely don't have this issue with running.  I never go out for what I think is a reasonable speed workout, for example, and find out the next day that it was actually hard.  I *know* when my running workouts are hard while I'm doing them.  With weight-bearing strength though, not so much... And this, my friends, is why I am one of the few women in the world who can accidentally build too much muscle.

Turns out, despite the fears of most women, it's non-trivially difficult for most women (and men) to build too much bulk as a result of lifting weights and/or doing explosive dynamic loading.  Thanks to genetics, this is not completely true for me... and yet, I still lift and risk it.  Why?  Well, I am fairly certain that one of the main reasons I am rarely injured (despite consistently maintaining an average of 20-50 miles per week for almost 10 years and weight that has fluctuated more than 30 lbs up and down during that time) is that I am functionally strong.  In addition to strength genes, I believe I have a combination of a childhood of athletics and college athletics to thank for this.  But, now that I'm entering middle age, I just want to preserve and maintain as much of that strength in as intelligent of a manner as possible.

My substantive workouts were straightforward.

Track Day for Speed:   1.3 miles w/u jog, strides, and drills.  3.12 miles total intervals plus recovery (200, 2X400; 2X800; 2X400; 200) Paces:  6:44; 7:41; 7:37; 7:59; 8:04; 7:45; 7:49; 6:43  (It's so gratifying to watch my speed paces drop as the weeks go by...)

As I mentioned, I cheated and combined by strength and endurance workouts this week because I wanted to run in a local 10K to get a fitness check.  I jogged about 15 minutes to the start at an easy pace and stood in line for a very long time to register (partially killing my warm-up, but what are you going to do?) -- next time I'll definitely do the online registration and show up earlier!

My goal was to try to hit 9ish minute miles and to see if I could sustain it for the whole race.  Unfortunately, I wasn't quite in shape enough to pull it off, and I did the dreaded positive split, but I knew that was a possibility going in.  I pushed myself for a great hour-ish long sustained effort and it definitely helped me figure out where I am in my fitness (in hindsight, I should have gone out at 9:10 and tried to sustain and push it in the last mile... oh well...).


1:  8:47
2:  8:54
3:  9:01
4:  9:23
5:  9:30 (5 second walk through the water break)
0.97: 9:17/mile pace

As you can see, the race was quite short for a 10K.   But, I wasn't complaining.  I was *done* when I hit the finish line.  I was thrilled to see 54:33 on the clock, but I knew I hadn't run anything close to the 8:48 pace that time would have required.

After the race, I met up with  Angela. We headed out for a hearty post-race breakfast and we chatted and became fast real-world friends to supplement our bloggy friendship.  She'd had quite an impressive performance in the 5K, so we headed back for the awards ceremony, where she picked up 2nd in her age group.  This race was actually much larger and faster than I expected.  The overall men's winner for the 5K ran a 16:XX and there were many folks in the 18s to the low 20s including several very impressive older masters and younger kids.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the event and I think I may try to make it a regular on my calendar -- it's hard to argue with a race you can jog to as a warm up from your front door.  Plus, three other folks from Silicon Valley Striders ran, and it's always fun to see folks you know at a race.

Finally, I got to do my shake-out easy day today with E and 2 other friends.  I ran 1.5ish miles to the trailhead, met them all there, we all did 0.5 miles medium with 0.25 walking intervals until we hit 3+; and then I ran home and we all went out for brunch.  This was a very pleasant and fun way to get in more than 6 miles on a recovery day.  Left to my own devices, I probably would have called it at 4 miles.  Yet another reason to be thankful for local friends!